PAUL HIGHAM

ALFRED, NEW YORK

Scottish-born artist now based in New York, Paul Higham has used computational technology in his art for over 35 years. Since the early 70's whilst studying at Goldsmiths College of Art in London, his endeavor has remained consistent as such to propagate a new form of art based on self organizing theories of artificial life.  In the mid 90's he developed ‘DATA SCULPTURE’ and remains a pioneer of computers in sculpture. 

These Data driven artworks deal with the commodification of information and dynamics of data itself. "I harvest grains of data from digital streams mined from population in real time, revealing organicity, hysteresis & turbulence within our culture, showing the flux of societal transformations such as the freeze and crash of the dollar. "

"When I retrieve real world data from sources such as the Statue of Liberty, The Texts of Malthus, Dow Jones Index, Gold Futures, as well as GPS, Weather & Satellite streams I synthesize them with coding & genetic algorithms, perturb them with virus & noise in order to generate automata in series thus creating new vectoral forms, a process I call ‘Autotecture,’ producing works I refer to as ‘Data Sculpture’ : 'As form follows function'."

Works are output as objects through cnc/rapid prototype technology or as flat maps. The works are shown in multiple states as data sculpture & data sonification or left in their real time evolving virtual state as installations and projections.

About Paul Higham:

Paul Higham is internationally recognized as a pioneer of digital sculpture and progenitor of ‘DataSculpture’ working with Virtual Sculpture and Prototyping technologies in the fine arts for over 35 years.

Born in Scotland in 1954, Whilst at Liverpool Art School in the early 70’s he was taught by Arthur Ballard. He went on to study Video and Painting at Goldsmiths, with Sculpture tutor Michael Craig Martin. Rather than study Art History, Higham studied John Von Neumann and Wittgenstein under August Wiedemann, a direct pupil of the philosopher. During Higham’s time at Goldsmiths Carl Plackman referred to Higham’s work as “Schematic entropy machines." These conceptual works specifying autonomous domain states became sculptural schemas in the late 70’s. By the 80’s he was able to make these domain states truly ‘Operational’ through computation, his endeavor has remained consistent to propagate a new form of art based on self-organizing theories of artificial life. 

In 1985 – 87 he became a resident at the Madhyamaka Tibetan Buddhist Monastery where he studied for the Geshe Degree {Lo-Rig} in “Mind & Cognition." This was the first time it was offered in the west. This research has directly influenced the current work in the ‘Thought Forms’ exhibition. 

Higham came to the USA in '95 to carry out advanced research residencies at the University of Minnesota in rapid prototyping and V.R. medical visualization labs: he harnessed these emergent technologies to produce digital art. During this period he was a resident artist at MVS Mayo Clinic Immersive Haptic Laparoscopy (remote surgery) utilizing haptic force feedback technologies as well as spending 3 yrs in the DARPA “Human Machine Design Lab” as resident artist building neural interfaces and data gloves. This is when he developed ‘DATA SCULPTURE’: using information theory, heuristics and real-time data mining to create emergent forms.

Also at this time he developed a relationship with Stratasys Rapid Prototype Corporation, Sensable and Geometrix using scanners to digitize objects volume by volume at a distance which Higham termed ‘Space Sampling.' The abducted coordinates of that object were then turned into a digital mesh or virtual 3D representation of conditional states. Thus following up on the inquiries he began at Goldsmiths College of Art, London.

Higham continues to use sonification, A.I./ virtual reality, haptic force feedback, cnc, rapid prototype and 3d printing technologies to directly engage the possibilities of algorithmic generation to make physical ‘Data Sculpture’ as well as drawings, maps, performance and interactive works for real-time, web and installations. 

Higham has lived and worked in London, Manchester, New York City, Minneapolis, Chicago, New Orleans, The Netherlands and currently resides in Upstate New York where he has an extensive digital sculpture studio. His works are in private collections and Museums.

www.datasculpture.net